Christmas is a time of traditions, and over the years, NPR has created a few traditions of its own. In this hour-long special, we'll experience wistfulness, joy, doubt and hope, summoned up in memorable stories from the NPR broadcast archives. David Sedaris, Bailey White, and John Henry Faulk, among many other NPR voices from the past and present tell stories of the season.
Bill Kemp recently penned his 400th article for the Pantagraph newspaper based in Bloomington-Normal. He’s been writing about history for nearly a decade and says even though we’re in a pretty rural part of the Midwest, he’s never been at a loss for an interesting tale to describe in his history column.
This hour on Focus, we revisit when host Jim Meadows talked with him about his book “Pages from the Past: Stories from the Sunday Pantagraph.” We learned more about Adlai Stevenson II, former Governor and 1950’s democratic Presidential candidate, and we talked with Kemp about his accounts of myths surrounding the Underground railroad in Central Illinois and the Orphan Train movement.
Monday, December 23: We'll listen back to a conversation Jim Meadows had with Bill Kemp, a historian who writes the "Pages from the Past" column for Bloomington-Normal's Sunday Pantagraph. He tells us about his recenlty published book and a little about quirky history in central Illinois.
Illinois isn’t the only place where pension funding has been a problem. Many private companies have been dropping pension plans in favor of other retirement packages, like 401 K’s, in recent years, and the federal government’s new budget deal also targets pension funds as a way to save money. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with personal finance experts Kevin Waspi and Kathy Sweedler about saving for retirement, what your options are and how to plan for how money comes and goes through your lifetime.
Or course, this hour on Focus, we also welcome your personal finance questions whether you’re looking at buying a car, sending a child to college or just starting out.
Read more for this month's updated Couch Potato Porfolio.
Matt Zoller-Seitz was a young film critic working in Dallas the first time he met filmmaker Wes Anderson, who’s responsible for movies including “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” and “Rushmore.” Zoller-Seitz was the first critic to review one of Anderson’s movies, before either had made a name for himself in the film industry.
Today, Zoller-Seitz and Anderson are good friends, and Zoller-Seitz has just published his first book “The Wes Anderson Collection” that contains photos from the movies and transcripts of in-depth interviews between the two. This hour on Focus, Jeff Bossert talks with Zoller-Seitz about the relationship between a critic and a movie maker.
When it comes to the meat industry, there is no shortage of opinion about whether large meat producers and packers are good or bad, but how and why did meat production become so controversial? How did we arrive at the production model we use today?
Author Maureen Ogle says that early in American history eating meat was a symbol of status and that consumers demanded low cost meat for their families. That, in addition to industrialization and the move of many Americans from rural areas to cities, is all a part of the very complex history of meat production in America. This hour on Focus, Ogle talks about her new book “In Meat We Trust,” with host Jim Meadows. She’ll tell us more about why most of the meat we consume comes from a large factory farm rather than from a small family owned farm and about why Americans eat so much chicken.
Meningitis infections are considered medical emergencies because many are life threatening. Dr. Tom Clark, who heads meningitis prevention and surveillance at the Centers for Disease Control, was on campus at Princeton University last week when university officials started administering a vaccine for meningitis b that’s not normally available in the US. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with him about the disease and why 8 confirmed cases of the disease prompted officials had to bring a non-FDA approved vaccine to the states.
During this hour on Focus, Brandon Meline of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District also joins the show. A new Illinois law will make meningitis vaccination mandatory for 6th and 12th grade students starting January 1st of next year.
Gary Chastagner, who has been working for more than two decades to determine which varieties of trees are the best at keeping their needles, says that for him, Christmas trees are more about business than they are about tradition or holiday sentimentality. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Chastagner, a plant pathologist and professor at Washington State University, about the research that goes into helping tree farmers know what they need to know to the kinds of trees that consumers demand.
Then, during the second half of this hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Ron Evans, a second generation Christmas tree farmer based in Decatur, Ill., about caring for and raising his trees. He operates farms in Illinois and in Wisconsin and says running a Christmas tree farm is more complicated than it seems.
This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about the best books to cozy up with inside as the cold marches on outside. Amber Castens and Elaine Bearden of the Urbana Free Library join host Jim Meadows and offer up a few holiday favorites, as well as a few new books out this year.
Read more to find a book list from today's show!
Ken Salo grew up in Cape Town, South Africa and compares living in apartheid era South Africa to what he imagines it would have been like to live in the Jim Crowe era South in the United States. He attended a segregated university there and says what you could do and where you could go was dictated by whether or not you were black, white or colored.
This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Salo about the racial issues that Nelson Mandela spent his life and career confronting and what it was like to be confronted with them as a young man in daily life. Host Jim Meadows also talks with Teresa Barnes, who lived in South Africa for 25 years and studies the country’s political and social history.